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Message posted on 30/06/2022

CfP: Technology and Material Culture in African History

                Technology and Material Culture inAfrican History:
Challenges and Potentials for Research and Teaching


Aninternational conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, January 4 – 8, 2023


Call for Papers and Roundtables

The conference seeks to consolidate andfoster the further development of
history of technology and material culture inAfrica. By gathering scholars
from Tanzania and across Africa, as well ascolleagues from other continents,
the conference will demonstrate thediscipline’s high degree of
relevance—to the research and teaching of historyand adjacent fields, as
well as to contemporary political agendas. Theorganizers wish to use this
event to discuss how historians of technology andmaterial culture may
contribute to the writing of a “usable past” for furthergenerations.

The organizers invite historians, archaeologists,anthropologists, geographers,
sociologists, and urban scholars to discuss thepotentials of interdisciplinary
and international collaboration around present intellectual,social,
technological, and environmental challenges in Africa and globally. Inthe
recent past, African countries have increased citizens’ access to
up-to-datemobility and communication technologies—electric household items,
mobile phones,and engine-driven vehicles. As the variety of terms
indicates—daladala, matatu, tro tros, bodaboda, bajaji, and so
on—artifacts are not just simply imported, but constantlymodified to fit
local circumstances and needs. By and large, however, ahistorical
understanding of these processes of domestication and reinvention isstill
lacking. That present-day historians of technology do not limitthemselves to
the study of modern, Western machines and systems, but include broaderaspects
of (pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial) “material culture,”
alsomeans the discipline plays a central role both in research projects and

There have been growing initiatives tointegrate Africa into the global history
of technology and material culture,but such efforts rarely focus on teaching.
Considering the ongoing curricularreview at African universities, it is a
pressing concern to discuss thepotentials of including the history of
technology and material culture inBachelor and Masters programs. The
organizers are convinced that the disciplineof history needs to include an
African perspective and showcase Africa’s contributionto global history of
technology and material culture. Therefore, the conferencefocuses on policies,
practices, and use to rethink the historiographic roleplayed by material
artifacts and systems. We believe there is a certain urgencyin researching,
writing, and teaching the history of technology and materialculture from a
truly African perspective. The organizers hope that the workshopwill provide
important additions to the nationalist and materialist views whichhave
dominated African history research, writing, and teaching sinceindependence.

By giving participants an opportunity todiscuss existing research projects and
teaching programs, the organizers aim atlaying the foundation for an
international network of historians of technologyand material culture in
Africa. We thus ask interested teachers and researchersfrom Africa and beyond
to contribute with standard workshop sessions andpapers, roundtable
discussions, and further innovative formats. Proposals maybe on any thematic
area in history of technology and material culture, forexample:

-      The place of technology andmaterial culture in the teaching of
African history

-      The political “usefulness” oftechnological and material

-      Gender and material culture inAfrican history

-      Crafttechnologies (e.g., basketry, carpentry, weaving, pottery,
metal working).

-      Farming,fishing, and hunting technologies

-      The adoption of materialobjects (e.g., cars, bicycles, electronic
and domestic appliances)

-      Infrastructure histories (e.g.,transportation, water, power,

-      Repair and maintenance cultures

-      Archaeologicalevidence

Please submit 300-word proposals and one-page CVs toEmanuel L. Mchome at orFrank Edward at

no later than August 31, 2022.

This unique event will be organized by theHistory Department at University of
Dar es Salaam in collaboration with theERC-funded research project “A Global
History of Technology, 1850-2000” at the TechnicalUniversity of Darmstadt in
Germany, the Society for the History of Technology(SHOT), and the Foundation
for the History of Technology in the Netherlands.The event will take place on
site in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Lodging and main mealsare provided by the
organizers; a one-day excursion is also included. Participantsfrom Africa are
invited to apply for travel grants. Selected applicants will benotified Sept.
15, 2022, and they will be requested to submit preliminary conferencepapers
(min. 2,500 words) by Nov. 15, 2022. Representatives of leadingscientific
journals will be present at the event.
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Frank EdwardGoogle Scholar

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